BEADS for Education is the "real deal". I went to Kenya in January 2012 with my sister to meet the student she sponsored five years ago and to see firsthand what BEADS was all about. What I found was a hard working group of people making a distinct and beneficial impact on the lives of Kenyan girls and their education.
The staff and volunteers work incredibly hard stretching every dollar to the utmost. All the money donated goes to pay student school fees for over 300 sponsored girls. Debby Rooney, the founder and director, does separate fund raising for her own salary and the building funds for the new high school.
The real stars of the trip were the Kenyan students. Investing in the education of young women is critical for the future of Kenya and Debby knows she is training the country's future leaders. When we met Debby in Nairobi, she was schlepping fifteen duffel bags filled with gifts from sponsors and hundreds of excellent books Debby's sister finds to stock the library at Top Ride Elementary School and Tembea Girls
High School (currently being built). This happens on every trip she makes to Kenya!
Debby makes contact with each and every student on at least one of her frequent trips to Kenya. My sister and I helped to organize the photos
for each student's yearly letter and update to their sponsor.
Additionally, my sister and I co-taught a creative writing course. What impressed me was the educational vision that Debby holds for her sponsored students. She understands the need--even the imperative-- for these girls to have strong critical thinking skills for the future challenges that await them.
That's the underlying impetus for Tembea High School. The rote learning procedures currently in place in Kenya won't cut it and Debby knows this and is working diligently to create a different learning path.
Rukia, BEADS in-country director and soon to be principal of Tembea High School, is young, energetic and extremely capable. She embodies what is possible when these girls are given an education. I was so moved by what I saw that I decided to sponsor a young girl named Alice. I can't wait to go back and see what Alice, Debby, Rukia and the rest of the BEADS volunteers have accomplished. Truly a well run and impressive organization making a significant impact.
I have sponsored 3 girls with BEADS for about 8 years and have enjoyed the opportunity to correspond with them and share our lives. I am currently assisting with aspects of the BEADS writing program and look forward to my first trip to Kenya in January 2013. I will be leading a writing program and assisting in other ways. Although I am involved with several other non-profits, it is difficult to name any that change lives so directly and impactfully as BEADS. Debby Rooney's passion has created lasting relationships between sponsors and young women, all of whom are transformed for the better.
Review from Guidestar
Anyone wishing information additional to what I have written in this review should feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I am an attorney in Sacramento, California. I have served on the board of directors of a Sacramento child-related non-profit for nearly 8 years, with the last 5 of those years as Board Vice-Chair or Board-Chair. I am therefore well familiar with the operation of 501(c)(3) non-profits. My first introduction to BEADS for Education was in the summer of 2004. I have have made three trips to Kenya, which have included BEADS-related activities and plan a fourth trip in January 2013. I have sponsored two students since 2004. Over the years I have recommended BEADS to a number of clients and colleagues who were weeking to donate to or to become involved with an overseas or educationally realted activity. I continue to recommend BEADS without hesitation. Please contact me for additional information. Betsy S. Kimball
My wife and I have been sponsors for a girl in the Beads program for five years. It has been very gratifying to see the development of her language and writing skills as we have corresponded over the years. I know that the work done by Beads has its grounding in Debby's heart. Debby, her husband Bill, Rukia and the rest of the small Beads staff work round the clock to make a difference for the people in the regions where Beads works. I have seldom met people less interested in really taking credit, gaining personal benefit or publicity, or more committed to helping people. We consider our donations to Beads for Education the most directly beneficial charitable contribution that we make. I doubt there is another organization anywhere that can equal Beads for Education's impact per dollar donated.
I have sponsored a student for the past five years. In January 2012, I visited Kenya, stayed at the BEADS house, toured the school my student attended through eighth grade and met her family. In addition, my sister and I helped run a week-long writing/reading workshop for all the BEADS-sponsored high school freshman, including my student, and high school graduates who have gone on to intern for a remote school in Northern Kenya this year. I was extremely impressed with the program and Debby (BEADS founder) and Rukia (a former BEADS-sponsored student who runs the operation in Kenya). The students were the real proof of the program--confident, happy and ambitious. The need for this education (with an emphasis on critical and creative thinking) is great, and Debby has created a lean and efficient sponsor-program to meet that need. Now, BEADS is building a high school for high school girls. Again, while it's an ambitious goal, the approach is entirely grass-roots and incremental. I would--and have--recommended BEADS to others because it is high-impact (getting girls through high school and beyond), low-overhead (almost nothing is spent on infrastructure and marketing), and while there aren't many employees, most of those who work on a full- or part-time basis for BEADS are Kenyans, which I believe is also very important.
Review from Guidestar